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Single wood bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by htdesigns, Dec 12, 2002.

  1. I am looking to build a bass entirely out of one wood using a two piece bookmatched thru neck construction with the trussrod fitted into the side of each half before gluing (G and L style). This means the body, neck and fingerboard will be one material. I have been trying to decide on the best wood to use, several options have arisen with the most common being maple but such options as wenge and bubinga have come up. Does anyone have any suggestions or comments that could help. The weight of the bass is not an issue as the design is tiny and i have already figured out that if made out of maple it would weigh under 2kg with out hardware and electronics.
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I'm guessing, by the weight, that this is either a "mostly-just-a-neck" bass, like a Steinberger, or is very open. Either way, I've never heard of a bass being made out of only two pieces of wood! As a reference, though, a few bass using all or mostly one type of wood for all parts:

    Pedulla - MVP and Buzz - all maple, except the fretboard

    Rickenbacker- 4003 - all maple, except the fretboard

    Leduc - Pad and Pad Rock - all Padauk
  3. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
  4. Zon Bass

    Zon Bass

    Jan 20, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    Wow, that Leduc looks great, I just wish he had made some pickup covers.

    Even though you said that weight isn't an issue, I would still reccomend not using wenge. It would still be pretty heavy, and it is a pain to work with.
  5. Thanks for the help. I had pretty much decided on maple for the combination of looks, tone and structural proporties but was checking to see if there was anything i had missed that was worth considering.
    The ovangkol sounds interesting but i have never heard of it being used as a fingerboard material, does anyone know how it would hold up?
  6. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Ovangkol (shedua) is in the same genus as bubinga. It's less dense than bubinga, more dense than padauk. It would make a fine fingerboard.

    The one thing you should consider is managing to get the growth rings perpendicular to the tension (quartersawn) in the neck and on the fingerboard.
  7. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Although it should be noted that some high-quality instruments are made with one-piece flatsawn maple necks, including the Pedulla Rapture, and also MTD Kingstons- plus I think others.

    I am thinking that, wood being an anisotropic material, the growth rings should either be perpendicular to the fretboard surface (quartersawn) or parallel to the fretboard (flatsawn), but should not be at any other angle between 0 & 90 degrees to the fretboard. This wil lcause the bending moment due to string tension to line up with one of the two major axes of the material, preventing any twisting torsion.

    As an alternative, this torsion could also be avoided by building up a neck from wood cut from any orientation, but only if the pieces are symmetrically matched on opposite sides of the centerline (like a mirror)- but this is trickier to do properly.
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Yeah, I agree- I think it looks great, and would benefit from matching covers. I am sure Leduc would do it, considering the degree of customization to which they will go:
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    There was a one-piece ebony bass on e-bay, just a month or two back.
    Not so long ago, there was a link in a thread here, IIRC, that pointed to a DIY bass page. The author had made a one-piece of mahogany, I believe. Could have been oak.
    Both those would work nicely. So would ash, if wieght is no issue.
  10. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    The first bass I built was an all teak bass:


    I like the concept of using one and only wood for the whole bass.

    I once met a guy who was builing maple basse out of one single piece of maple!!!!!!!!!! well, two pieces in fact becaus he did attach the fingerboard after fitting the truss rod.

    The pad basses from Leduc are very cool and Padauk is a wood of choice for this concept.

    A few monthes ago, a TBer here requested from me a quotation for an all wenge bass (could have been semi hollow for weight)!!!! This project was exciting (I LOVE WENGE) but we didn't go on.

    I have the project to build some basses using only one wood next year and I may use Padauk or Dib├ętou for them. Ovangkol is an all around wood but it is sometimes so damn heavy...

    Peace, JP
  11. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    My Alembic Essence is all-maple, except for the fretboard, and sounds really really good.

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